One of the many questions I get asked in my clinic is why I became an Acupuncturist. This article seeks to answer this question with the prospective student in mind. Not necessarily a prospective acupuncture student, it is aimed at those who are students of life. Most acupuncture students in the UK come to study acupuncture as a mature student. The vast majority are between the ages of 30 to 60 years and have already had careers in other areas. When I was a student there were people from around the world who came to study from an array of different fields, from teachers, doctors, council workers, horticulturalists, computer designers, artists and scientists. This experience is very different in China where acupuncture would be considered a normal career choice. In China it is a traditional job, one that would be on the schools career choice list and not considered alternative or unusual. What brings us to study and practice acupuncture in the UK?
I started to think about studying acupuncture after I had received acupuncture for a stubborn and debilitating health issue. I went for acupuncture because I had re-currant monthly throat infections which started about the age of 18 years. Looking back on this episode which went on for around 7 or 8 years, I think I probably had undiagnosed glandular fever which went on to a post viral type syndrome. Recurrent courses of antibiotics gave temporary relief but would also further reduce my immune system, so I got into this cyclical pattern of a throat infection any time I was at a low ebb. I needed something to break the cycle of ill health and something different from a seemingly indifferent western medical approach.
I had a friend at the time that was receiving acupuncture and thought it was wonderful, she convinced me to try it. I was not keen, I thought it was a completely bizarre idea, it was after all the 1980’s and acupuncture was not common place. I had images in my head of thick needles like nails and therefore expected it to be very painful. I found it hard to imagine how this could possibly help my health. However, I was desperate and had no idea what else I could try! The rest, as they say, is history. Within two or three months of receiving acupuncture things began to change. On the advice of my wonderful practitioner at the time I also made some lifestyle and dietary changes. Now, 25 years later I can say I have never had another throat infection. Acupuncture had made the difference.
This however does not adequately explain why I went on to be a practitioner. Yes I found the whole thing remarkable and it had helped, but why go on to study it? It is quite a different scenario to become a practitioner; it is after all a complex system of medicine, and one that is at home in the East, in China. At the time I chose to study acupuncture it was often viewed with scepticism by western medics, this attitude, although less prevalent, is still around today.
I studied acupuncture because it “touched” me. Acupuncture does not just have an approach to help the physical aspects of ourselves, but also has the ability to reach the person. So often in the treatment room patients say, “I feel better in myself”. When asked to explain they will say things like “I didn’t realise I wasn’t feeling my self until I started to feel better. Now I feel like my old self.” This isn’t just because the person’s physical condition has improved; it is much deeper than that. Acupuncture has this unique ability to work on our very subtle energy, the energy that quite simply, makes us tick. At the time I decided to study acupuncture I was looking for answers to life and death. I had recently lost my brother which had sparked a plethora of questions about the meaning of life. His death sparked lots of questions about what happens to the soul when we die, and questions about how we make the most of our life and reach our full potential. At the time of his death I was still receiving acupuncture for which I am now very thankful. I had a wonderful practitioner who not only treated me with acupuncture, but also took the time to guide my reading and the time to help me move on. She did this within the thinking and philosophy behind acupuncture.
What a wonderful approach to healing. This is why I went on to study acupuncture and have now been in practice for the past 16 years. This also is why acupuncture remains as relevant today as it was 2000 years ago. The theory and practice of acupuncture comes from the remarkable observation of human life and “the human condition” within the cycle of all life on our planet.
What an amazing job to have.